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Delivery Trip from Seychelles to Dar es Salaam 2009n written by Tiffiny

Time flies with the wind as change rides on her back.  Never has anything been more relevant or shown to me more profoundly than the above, together with the fact that nothing stays the same and everything is constantly changing.  As the winds of time blew through Opela’s sails I was reminded time and again that everything is just a moment and that this moment will too pass.  As I now reflect on my past lunar month of sailing together with the past 7 years I have spent living on and off the water I can bring to memory all the moments of my latest sail together with those past  7 years, some of which included my moments of awe, wonder, joy, love, nervousness, fear, drunkenness, happiness, beauty and contentment as moments frozen in time, which moments make up a collage of my experiences and during this time I have lived, one continual moment, of which can now only be called happy memories. 

Some of the more vivid moments during the last month of traveling that stand out in my mind are the fruit bats in the Seychelles which nested in a tree near our B&B, which was situated on the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.  The bats continually flew across the sky and as I sat on my balcony in the evenings looking out to sea the bats would fly across the moon before nesting in the tree and then literally “moon” the moon as they hung upside down.  There was the expansive double rainbow which arched across the horizon and lit up the grey sky on our second day sailing down from Dar to South Africa and then again after a storm we had experienced further on during our sail.  There were the whales who frolicked in the surf without a care in the world, it appeared that they would usually come out to play when the wind was blowing over 25 knots and I joked with Kevin that when we see the whales playing so happily we know that the wind is probably going to get stronger, and sometimes it did, but not always.  There was the rain squall - I love it when it rains at sea – there is a certain peace about it, the ocean settles as if it is being pacified by the water returning to it and in its happiness it turns to a sea of goose bumps as the pure droplets from the sky touch down and the various shades of grey blend way off as far as the eye can see in every direction.  Each sunset and sunrise was different and unique and these too passed, never to be repeated again in the same way.  No two days or nights are ever the same at sea, the sea is constantly changing along with the sky conditions.  On one particular morning both the ocean and I were looking forward to the sunrise (the darkest hour before dawn is probably my least favorite time on watch (the bewitching hour where the wind blows about 3 – 5 knots stronger than at any other time, or so it felt) and one of my night watches fell between 3 – whatever time Kevin woke up-normally 6)  It was during this time that the ocean and I were looking forward to the sunrise and as the sun came up over the horizon the ocean was able to greet him first and offered up sparkling jewels of crystals and diamonds while all I had to offer was a smile and a hello and a sigh of relief in my heart that another night of strong winds and big seas was behind me, and yes this moment also passed and made space for other moments such as those mornings when during the bewitching hour it was so calm and so peaceful as Opela glided effortlessly on a bed of flat seas in 10- 15 knots of wind and the full moon kept me company that I did not want the sun to rise but rise the sun did in her majestic, splendid way and time moved on.

I left SA for Seychelles flying via Dubai.  The flight ended up taking 3 days as due to a heavy rain storm the pilot was unable to land the plane in the Seychelles so I ended up visiting Mauritius for a night and saying in a fancy hotel in the lap of luxury.  I have always wanted to visit Mauritius so I was not complaining and enjoyed the trip together with the bit of sight seeing I was able to do while traveling across Mauritius to the hotel.  The reason for the flight to Seychelles was to do a delivery on a 43 foot Leopard Catamaran (my dream boat).  The course to be steered was initially to be from Seychelles down to Madagascar then across to the Comoros then to Mtwara which is at the bottom end of Tanzania and then up the coast to Dar es Salaam but as we left Seychelles the wind to follow on this course was directly on the bow and the waves were rather large so instead we turned and sailed a beam reach directly across the notorious Somali pirate waters straight to Dar es Salaam.  When I arrived in the Seychelles Kevin was already there and had rented a car for us to use, so between provisioning the boat and checking on the work that was being done on the boat to prepare her for the sail we toured around Mahe and did a bit of sight seeing.
Picture of Eden Island

 Unfortunately we did not have time for snorkeling or visiting other islands while we were there but we were able to meet some locals and get a feel for the island, which was a definite relaxed, island holiday feeling.  Two things I loved most in the Seychelles was firstly, the natural habitat, it has all the elements of nature which I love within close proximity to everything, the mountain, the sea, the coral reefs, the forest and the beaches and secondly, I do so love the way the Seychellwa inhabitants pronounce their words, they have such a relaxed, melodious way of speaking that I would engage them in conversation just to listen to them talk. 

The day before we were due to check out of the Seychelles we were shown some pictures of what the Somali Pirate mother ship looks like and the smaller vessels which go out to “hunt” - very puny looking if you asked me – I expected something much bigger and more impressive, but I must admit until that particular moment the reality of what we were doing did not really concern me much, even if I did have a few “clever plans and sneaky tricks” in place should we be confronted by a pirate.  Examples of my clever plans and sneaky tricks were – jump overboard (not such a clever plan) or hide in the sail bag (not too sneaky) or just submissively surrender (I think not).  Kevin had his own tricks and ideas – one of which was to attack them with a blow torch which he had purchased but when he did the demonstration for us on how it would work the demonstration did not go too well so I am happy to state that as fate would have it we did not have to resort to any of our ideas, clever plans or sneaky tricks and the only time I let the thoughts of the Pirates entertain my mind was when it was my watch and I needed to keep an eye out for them and then if I saw a light on the horizon (which always turned out to be stars or tricks on my retina) my heart would beat very fast for a short while.  We were fortunate in the fact that the winds were fairly strong 25 – 30 knots most of the time and the sea swell was quite large and I felt that is was due to these conditions that we did not encounter any pirates as they were probably being kept at bay due to unfavorable sea and wind conditions.
Large waves looking across the cockpit

 The down side of the large swells and strong winds was that the waves slapping the hull felt as if someone had bought a donkey along and put it under my cabin and this donkey kicked me continuously for the entire duration of the trip because I would not let it in my cabin with me, this donkey kicked so much that during the trip one of the ceiling boards fell off on top of me while I was trying to rest, sometimes I could feel the continual pounding vibrate through my heart and body and it sometimes felt like I was on one of those vibrating machines that wobble the excess fat off your body as the way my body responded.  (yes… my bottom wobbled while I was trying to rest if I lay on my tummy, Kevin complained that his tummy wobbled while he lay on his back – suppose we both know where we have to firm up a bit) Due to the fact that I did not share my cabin with the donkey it meant that I had a whole cabin to myself, bliss!  I made my cabin up with sheets and blankets to look like a charter room, I had my own locking door with en-suite hot water shower and toilet and only once in the night, after a particularly bad rain storm was there a wet patch in my bed that I wondered if the donkey had come in and wet the bed but I just think it was a bit of a leaky hatch under extreme conditions.  It took us 5 ¼ days to sail the 1000 nautical miles.  Despite the pounding, which catamarans are well know for, Arcacega sailed like a dream and we were able to travel an average of 8.7 knots on a beam reach all the way across and during the time we only saw a couple of whales in the distance, lots of flying fish  and numerous sea birds.  All in all it was a good trip which went very fast without any drama or too much excitement.


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